19th August 1942: The Prime Minister Winston Churchill during his stay in the Middle East, in the gardens of the British Embassy with members of the Middle East War Council.
Left to right (back row) Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Sir Alan Brooke, Admiral Sir H Harwood, and Mr Richard Casey.
(Front row) Field Marshal Jan Smuts, Sir Winston Churchill, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, and Sir Archibald Wavell (Photo from JAMD)
Left to right (back row) Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Sir Alan Brooke, Admiral Sir H Harwood, and Mr Richard Casey.
(Front row) Field Marshal Jan Smuts, Sir Winston Churchill, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, and Sir Archibald Wavell (Photo from JAMD)
In 1947 the territory of India, then under British occupation, was partitioned between two political formations: the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Muslim League. The treatment which these two political organizations received from the British administration in India, and from conservative elements within the ruling circles in Britain, differed greatly. INC leaders were jailed on the slightest pretext and any agitation by their followers for independence was tackled with brutal efficiency. A case in point being the Quit India movement of 1942, which was crushed with violence, including the slaughter of thousands of innocents through aerial straffing and bombardment!
By contrast the communal propaganda of the Muslim League, the collection of arms by its terrorist followers, and the violence unleashed by them on innocent people of all faiths went unpunished and unchecked. No attempt was made by the all-powerful British administration in India to prevent such activities, even when the Muslim League followers screamed for the murder of their fellow human beings who happened to be infidels, in public meetings. No leader of this political formation was ever arrested for such crimes....there wasn't even any reprimand by the British rulers for the League's incitement to violence of the public.
Indeed they turned a blind eye to such criminal activities. Not only do the British share responsibility with the Muslim League for all the bloodshed in the latter's communal terrorism, they actually made the rise of this political formation possible and were closely allied with it. In return the Muslim League remained obedient to the British and offered their complete servility in aiding the latter's influence in India even after indepence. This alliance was carried forward to a deeper relationship with the new entity of Pakistan, which the British helped politically, militarily, and diplomaticaly in the first war against India. In fact these British, and among them certain prominent individuals, were the true creators of Pakistan.
It was clearly unsatisfactory that while one of the two great parties is well organised and well equipped to pursue its objectives and express its aims, that the other equally of great importance should be masked and prevented from securing its full expression by failure of an adequate mouthpiece. It was in the public interest that the Muslim point of view should be fully and completely expressed.
So said Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India, after the Muslim League had once again suffered a humiliating defeat in the elections to the 11 Indian provinces. In 8 of these the INC had been voted to power, while regional parties had triumphed in Punjab and Bengal. Sikander Hayat Khan premier of the Unionist Party (a coalition of Punjabi Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs) ruled Punjab and opposed the Muslim League's policy of confrontation between communities. In Bengal Fazl-ul-Haq of the Peasants' and Tenants' party was also opposed to Jinnah and his Muslim League. In fact Jinnah's party could not even win a quarter of the seats reserved for Muslim candidates; worse, voting in India under colonial rule was limited to a mere 14% of the population, which reduces the Muslim League representation to almost nothing! And yet Linlithgow insisted on foisting Jinnah as the representative of all Muslims.
This was becaue the Muslim League had promised the viceroy that they would act as stumbling blocks to the freedom movement and democratic aspirations of India. Moreover Jinnah had developed contacts with Conservative elements in Britain during the 1930s....he carried on a long and secret corrrespondence with British PM Winston Churchill. Linlithgow, friend and admirer of Churchill, wished to give Jinnah through the backdoor what he had failed to win in elections.
The viceroy ordered Fazl-ul-haq and Sikander Hayat Khan to give precedence to Jinnah on the national stage. By his insistence the Muslim members of these regional parties were made to take dual membership of the Muslim League.
But Linlithgow did not favour the Pakistan scheme, which had recently been outlined by Jinnah. At the most he would consider a grouping of Muslim-majority provinces, which would remain under British rule for another 50 years, to keep the INC in check. As Linlithgow confidently asserted to Zetland, the Secretary of State, "He (Jinnah) represents a minority and a minority that can only hold its own with our assistance."
After the brutal supression of the INC's Quit India movement (official British estimates say that over 1000 civilians were massacred mostly by aerial straffing and the deployment of 57 army battalions), when the British Indian Army's C-in-C Archibald Wavell was nominated to be the new Viceroy, Linlithgow told him when leaving: "Britain would have to continue responsibility of India for another 30 years."
Wavell: Archibald Wavell was Viceroy of India in the crucial period of 1943-47; he wrote a letter to King George V soon after taking office:
I can never entirely rid my mind of the recollections that in 1942 at almost the most critical period of the war in India, when I was endeavouring as C-in-C to secure India with very limited resources against Japanese invasion, the supporters of the Congress made a deliberate effort to paralyse my communications to the eastern front by widespread sabotage and looting.
Wavell was C-in-C when the British were defeated by the Japanese in SE Asia, and had been appointed Viceroy of India when the charismatic ex-Congress leader Subhash Chandra Bose reached Singapore. Wavell was stunned to learn that Indian POWs, to the number of 10,000 (British estimate but the INA sources claimed 50,000 recruits), had joined Bose to form the Indian National Army. And when this force marched to India from the east, more Indian soldiers from the British Indian Army, deserted to the INA. These included Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs; and after the war three INA soldiers from these communities were tried for treason by the British, which caused outrage in India leading to the soldiers being pardoned.
The new C-in-C of the British Indian Army, Claude Auchinleck, frankly admitted: "It's no use shutting one's eyes to the fact that any Indian soldier worth his salt is a nationalist, though that does not mean....that he is anti-British."
Note that he said "Indian soldiers", and not Hindus or Sikhs alone, which was reflected in the composition of the INA. Wavell predicted, "The loyalty of the police and the Indian Army in face of a really serious challenge to British rule is problematic." And this loyalty would be further strained in the rising of the Naval ratings, and some air and army units, in 1946, supported by the masses.
But before this rising, Viceroy Wavell had come to the conclusion that the British position in India was on the verge of collapse. The way to preserve the British position worldwide (in the form of the Commonwealth), was a deeper alliance with the Muslim League. Wavell took it upon himself to build up Jinnah as a spokesperson for all Muslims, and to brush a friendly coat of paint on all Muslims. Wavell in a note to the UK goverment said, "The immense gulf between the Hindu religion and mentality and ours and the Moslem is the real core of all our troubles in India."
In other words Wavell was trying to twist facts to suit his plan for an alliance with Jinnah; for there were enough Muslims in the INC and Muslim soldiers had joined the INA. So Wavell talking of "ours and the Moslem" was referring not the Muslim masses, but to the tiny elite of rich landowners and merchants who formed the Muslim
League, and represented feudal and unprogressive viewpoints. Their British allies too were of the same breed, Wavell included, of an elite formed by civil and military officers and right-wing politicians like Churchill, who held racist and colonial views. They wished to preserve the empire in some form and opposed freedom and the natural spread of democracy to oppressed populations around the world.
Wavell's objective was to give Muslim-majority provinces to Jinnah by devious means, and then withdraw British civil and military officers to these provinces, leaving the rest of India to the INC. And what of the princely states? Wavell said that in the British-controlled NE (Bengal) princely states like Sikkim, Bhutan, Cooch Behar, Tripura and Manipur would be in the British orbit; while in the British-controlled NW princely states in Baluchistan, Sikh princely states in Punjab, Hindu princely states in (modern-day) Himachal, and J&K princely state would be in the British orbit. Amazingly he also hoped that Hyderabad, located faraway from these two regions in the Indian Penisula, would also be in British orbit! This he later termed his "Breakdown Plan" in case no other arrangement could be worked out for India's future. In this plan large Hindu and Sikh populations would remain under the British and Muslim League since entire provinces and princely states were supposed to stay intact. Wavell felt that this plan would force the INC to accept the creation of a smaller Pakistan. For this smaller Pakistan, Wavell applied the following principles:
1) If Muslims (i.e. the Muslim League) insist on self-determination in genuinely Muslim areas this must be conceded
2) There was no question of compelling large non-Muslim populations to remain in Pakistan against their will
For the first purpose he enacted the Simla Conference of all leaders on the basis of caste and creed, following the colonial view that there were no modern Indians (as in the INC) but only separate communities. With the full backing of the Viceroy, and secret encouragement from right-wing elements in Britain, Jinnah claimed that Hindus and Muslims were separate (referring again to the elites) and that he alone was leader of the Muslims.
James Glancy, governor of Punjab which was crucial for the creation of Pakistan, wrote to Wavell, "Jinnah's claim to nominate all Muslims appears to me in light of League's meagre hold on Muslim-majority provinces, to be outrageously unreasonable.....If Pakistan becomes an imminent reality we shall be heading for bloodhsed on a wide scale."
Poor Glancy! He wasn't made aware of Britain's strategic reasons for creating Pakistan as a western puppet, and his prophetic warning fell on deaf ears. When other Muslim leaders saw the British support for Jinnah, and their determination to create Pakistan in some form, they began joining the Muslim League. At this time the Labour party had formed the new government in Britian, and Churchill's support was no longer (publicly) forthcoming for Wavell. The viceroy wrote to the new cabinet in London, "It is easy to say that the Muslims cannot be allowed to hold up the settlement; but they are too large a proportion of the population to be bypassed...."
Where was the question of "Muslims" holding up a settlement? It was the upper-caste (ashraf) Muslim League party, which always fared poorly in elections and did not represent most Muslims, that was holding up a settlement with the connivance of the viceroy's administration and the backing of right-wing elements in Britain.
In 1946 occured two events that graphically illustrated this connivance; the mutiny in the Indian armed forces and Jinnah's direct action of communal terrorism. The rising of the naval natings in Bombay and Karachi, and certain air force and army units, did not remain confined only to the military but spread by sympathy to Indian civilians in these places. A frantic Wavell supressed this rising with horrific violence, killing 200 protestors and injuring 1000 in Bombay alone.
Gruesome results of the communal terrorism by the Muslim League in Calcutta. Photographer: Margaret Bourke-White source: Life Magazine
Wavell's reaction to Muslim League's violence was entirely different. In Muslim-majority Bengal the League government launched Jinnah's 'direct action' of communal terrorism on 16 August 1946. In the capital Calcutta, the Muslim League chief minister Suhrawardy told the mob of nearly 100,000 at a public rally that he had confined the police and army in the barracks, and that they were free to take 'direct action'.
As soon as the rally ended, the Muslim fanatics armed with sticks, knives, swords, and guns, attacked Hindu shops and houses. The Sikhs who ran the transport business also suffered from this outrageous act of terrorism. Thousands were killed in the most barbaric manner, reminiscent of the scenes created by the savage Muslim armies in medieval era. But just as in those savage times, the Hindu and Sikh resistance hit back with equal violence and so frightened the Muslim League leaders (who were utter cowards for all their bombast) that Suhrawardy begged Mahatma Gandhi's help in subduing the mobs. But by then the violence had spread to Bihar, where the Hindu majority attacked the Muslim League supporters.
Amazingly enough Wavell, having done nothing to prevent this violence, refused to even upbraid Jinnah or Suhrawardy for their speeches inciting communal war, forget about throwing those terrorists in jail. Nor was the Muslim League ministry dismissed for this crime against humanity. Viceroy Wavell merely remarked, "Both sides made preparations, which may or may not have been defensive."
This line of blindly equating the terrorist Muslim League with the secular and progressive INC would be repeated later on in the case of their respective countries by western powers.
Caroe: In the 1945 elections once again the Indian National Congress trumped the Muslim League, proving that Jinnah was completely dependent on the British for his power, and that the latter connived in his use of communal violence. But the most frustrating result for the Anglo-Muslim League alliance was in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Here the entirely Muslim Pathan people had voted for the INC!
This was not surprising, since they had been voting Congress from the start, and their leaders Ghaffar Khan (also named the Frontier Gandhi) and Dr. Khan Sahib were INC members. The Pathans wanted independence from British rule, and when they saw that only the INC was fighting against the British, their alliance with the INC was natural. The Muslim League was seen by them to be a British puppet. The NWFP chief minister was Dr. Khan Sahib, a former doctor in the British Indian Army, secular in his beliefs and actions, and married to an Englishwoman.
Sir Olaf Kirkpatrick Kruuse Caroe was appointed governor of NWFP by Wavell in 1946. He played a crucial role in prising this province from INC hands and afterwards had a prominent role in making Pakistan a western ally. For these reasons he finds a place in this list of the creators of Pakistan; although the irony is that he was never an enthusiastic supporter of this scheme to create a British-allied Pakistan, for upper-caste Muslims, in northwestern India.
Before his appointment as governor, Olaf Caroe had been foreign secretary in Delhi (1939-46) and the adviser to both Linlithgow and Wavell on British India's policy towards Afghanistan, Xinjiang (now under China), and the Persian Gulf region. To secure Afghanistan and the Middle-East he proposed that the British keep control of tribal areas on the Indian frontier; from Baluchistan to NWFP. Access to Xinjiang would come from the tribal areas of J&K State, Gilgit and Chitral, connected by land to NWFP.
Caroe believed that the British had a long experience of handling the tribes, and that it would be easier to separate only the tribal areas from India, than to create Pakistan for the upper-caste Muslims. He felt the latter would be unable to control or influence Afghanistan and would instead engage in communal warfare against India, and would drag Britain into the mess as their ally.
Despite these prophetic views Caroe fell in line with the official British position on Pakistan. And for all his strategic thinking, Caroe shared with other British officials, a dislike of the INC and by extension of most inhabitants of India. In his term of office in NWFP Caroe did all in his power to help the Muslim League increase its influence. During Nehru's visit to the NWFP, the Muslim League managed to organise violent mobs at every place where he was supposed to hold a meeting or a rally---but where Nehru took an unscheduled trip he was welcomed peacefully by the locals. As vice-president of the newly created interim government, Nehru had been obliged to share the schedule of his trip with Caroe, who must have passed it on to the Muslim League enabling them to plan violent demonstrations by their goons in advance.
In fact Caroe candidly admitted as much in his report to Wavell:
Given the fact that Nehru's tour was obviously intended to push the Congress cause, it would have been wrong to put active restraint against League's propagandists going into tribal territory.
In other words he connived in the violence of the Muslim League, just like some of the governors of other British provinces, as well as the viceroy and his officials in the center.
Dr. Khan Sahib took strong measures against the Muslim League goons and put thousands of them in jail, upon which Caroe shot off a letter to the new Viceroy Mountbatten, demanding the dismissal of the INC govt in NWFP and a fresh election. When Mountbatten visited NWFP crowds gathered shouting slogans praising him and Pakistan....obviously organised by the Muslim League (former is a dead giveaway; the usual slavish tactics of the Muslim League aimed at massaging western ego).
Dr. Khan Sahib bluntly told the viceroy that these were actually organised with the connivance of Caroe. Yet these demonstrations allowed Mountbatten to convince Nehru that a referendum was needed, and to ensure neutrality he removed Caroe from his post. Unfortunately Abdul Ghaffar Khan prevented his followers from actively campaigning against the Muslim League to prevent bloodshed among the Pathans; even so the referendum was lost by the narrowest of margins (50.49%) proving again that the ML had little influence in NWFP.
In retirement Caroe authored several books on his service experience and strategic vision; among them The Wells of Power, where he argued that Pakistan would help establish a community of Islamic states to secure mid-east oil agaisnt Communist Russia. But history has shown that his original misgivings on creating Pakistan proved to be truly prophetic.
Attlee: The prime minister of Britain during the passage of the Indian Independence Act, Clement Attlee belonged to the upper middle class but became a member of the left-leaning Labour Party in order to fight poverty in Britain. However, on international issues, and specially the continuing glory of the British Empire, Attlee's views remained strongly conservative.
Attlee was the deputy-PM of the War Cabinet and gave strong support to Churchill during the Second World War; he was also appointed head of the India Committee, which came up with the Pakistan card in 1942. Secretary of State Amery wanted to deflect criticism that, "we are deliberately holding up all progress (in Indian independence) by giving a blackmailing veto to the minorities (actually the Muslim League party)." He and Churchill came up with the idea that each province and princely state must be given the option of becoming independent, or forming a dominion with other provinces, as a means of balkanizing India.
The India Committee with Attlee at its head approved of this new policy and the result was the "Cripps Offer" of 1942, which led to the INC's Quit India movement.
Attlee, it turns out, supported the bloody supression of this movement. In a letter to American President Roosevelt he warned, "if Congress agitated, the consequences would be grave and thus vigorous steps would be necessary to supress the movement at the very outset."
Soon after Attlee's Labour Party won the 1945 general elections in Britain, elections with a limited franchise were held in India. The Muslim League won 73 out of the 78 seats reserved for Muslims under the separate electorates system; but as described above, it was trounced in the provinces claimed by Jinnah for his Pakistan (NWFP and Punjab). The INC emerged as the largest political formation in India. Later in 1946 came the trial of the INA officers and the mutiny in units of the armed forces.
Attlee and his cabinet wished to prevent an India-wide rebellion by the armed forces and the INC. Hence a cabinet mission was sent to Delhi; it devised a plan for an interim government and a constituent assembly to create a constitution.....however legislators of this assembly, from provinces in NW and NE India (claimed by Jinnah) were to be grouped together. In addition they could leave the main Indian assembly after ten years and create their own separate constitutions.
Attlee had dropped the 'provincial option' in favour of the grouping scheme, which contained the seeds of a bigger Pakistan and which he hoped would make INC agree to partition. But the INC outfoxed him by insisting on the past declaration by the British that individual provinces had the right to decide their own future, and under this assumption entered the interim government. This greatly unnerved Wavell and angered Jinnah.
Wavell then proposed his breakdown plan, described above, in case a constitution could not be worked out. Jinnah worried that the INC, by entering the interim government would gain control of the levers of power, unleashed the Muslim League's communal terrorism saying, "Only the League's direct action could prevent the Congress from hijacking the constituent assembly on the basis of its majority, turn it into a sovereign body and attempt a de facto takeover of power."
The INC's interpretation of the grouping scheme was not challenged by Attlee until December 1946, because he wanted their leaders to taste the fruits of power and then agree to partition. Attlee revealed his duplicity at a conference of Indian political leaders in London and followed it up with a statement (Feb 20 1947), which again fell back on the provincial option:
HMG will have to consider to whom the powers of the central government of British India, should be handed over, on the due date, whether as a whole....or to in some areas to the existing provincial governments.
Such bewildering chop-and-change in policy had only one aim: to create Pakistan in NW India for Britian's strategic aims. But unlike the conservatives, who wished to see the rest of India balkanized, Attlee had been advised by the Post-hostilities Planning Staff and the Chiefs of Staff in Britain, that while Pakistan was important for securing mid-east oil and provide bases to tackle the Soviet Union, India was also important as a base for operations to the Far East, as a manpower resource, and for securing the sea lanes of communication of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth had been designed to serve as a military, strategic, and trade aliance of the former colonies of the British Empire. In this regard the Chiefs of Staff also said that Britain should retain the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and use them as ouposts to Burma and the Malay Peninsula, both of which were still part of the British Empire.
Claude Auchinleck, C-in-C of the armed forces in India, when asked by Attlee to prepare a report on the repercussions of creating a British-allied Pakistan, stated, "Pakistan, whether it has two zones or the NW India zone, will not provide the means by which the British Commonwealth can hope to influence or coerce an independent Hindustan and keep it free of hostile foreign influence (i.e the Soviet Union)"
Hence Attlee wished to keep India (minus Pakistan) united and within the British Commonwealth as an ally. So in February he appointed Mountbatten as Viceroy to convince the INC to accept partition. His chief of staff was General Hastings Ismay, who had served in the NWFP and was close to Churchill. Like most other British officers, Ismay was pro-Muslim League and anti-INC, and one of his duties was to keep in touch with Jinnah. Ismay later became the first secretary-general of NATO.
At the conference in New Delhi where Lord Mountbatten disclosed Britain's partition plan for India (left to right)Nehru, Ismay, Mountbatten, Jinnah (from JAMD)
The INC accepted partition with the confidence that since their government was in power in NWFP (Ismay in frustration called it "a bastard situation"), Pakistan would be unviable, an island within India which would eventually be re-absorbed. The methods by which Caroe, Wavell, and Mountbatten prised NWFP from INC hands have been shown above.
Jinnah too, tried hard for a united Punjab and Bengal, to be under Muslim League control and for a "corridor" linking the two, but was overruled by Mountbatten. Jinnah pleaded, "All the Muslims have been loyal to the British...supplied a high proportion of the army....none of our leaders has ever had to go to prison for disloyalty."
Jinnah, as usual, twisted and manufactured facts, extending the "loyalty" of the Muslim League to "all Muslims". In fact Muslims of the INC had gone to prison while Muslim soldiers in the INA had fought against the British. In the end, since he was so dependent on British favours, Jinnah had to bend before Mountbatten, Attlee, and Churchill. The last in fact had remarked, "Jinnah is one man who cannot do without British help."
After independence Attlee's government conspired to let Pakistan attack J&K princely state. They had hoped that this state, with a mixed population of Dogras, Gujjars, Kashmiris, and others, would join or at least ally with Pakistan. And with this broad strategic aim of their country, Mountbatten and Ismay had hoped to influence the J&K Maharaja into acceding to Pakistan. But this hope had not factored in the determination of Maharaja Hari Singh and the Dogras, a community of Hindu warriors inhabiting a solid block of mountainous land between Pakistani Punjab and the Kashmir valley, to resist the Anglo-Pakistani attempts to, "absorb or at any rate dominate J&K."
Ernest Bevin, the British foreign secretary, remarked that in the J&K war, "the main issue was who would control the main artery leading into Central Asia (i.e. Xinjinag)", either the Indians or the Anglo-Pakistani alliance. Mountbatten, on instructions from Attlee, put hurdles in India's war effort and ultimately made Nehru take the issue to the UN..........
Reference and further reading: The Shadow of the Great Game by Narendra Singh Sarila.